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Design and Construction of the New Champlain Bridge,

Montreal, Canada
Marwan Nader, Senior Vice-Pres., T.Y.Lin International, San Francisco, California, USA; Zachary McGain, Principal,
International Bridge Technologies, Laval, Canada; Sevak Demirdjian, Vice-Pres., Roads and Bridges, SNC-Lavalin Inc., Montreal,
Canada; Jeff Rogerson, Technical Manager, Flatiron Construction Corp, Richmond, Canada. Contact: marwan.nader@tylin.com
DOI: 10.2749/101686617X14676303588878

Abstract architectural considerations, are project one of the largest in North

explored in this paper. America. The new 3.4 km bridge con-
The New Champlain Bridge is a high- sists of three independent superstruc-
profile infrastructure project in North Keywords: cable-stayed bridge; steel
tures supported by common piers:
America due to its critical economic concrete composite girder; winter
the West Approach structure, the
importance, the premature deteriora- construction; fast-track schedule;
Cable-Stayed Bridge (CSB) and the
tion of the existing structure and its durability.
East Approach structure (Fig. 1).
visibility throughout the metropolitan The design includes up to four high-
area. As the gateway into Montreal, Introduction way lanes in each direction, a central
significant architectural input is encap- transit corridor for mass public trans-
sulated in the project design criteria. Spanning the St. Lawrence River port with provision for future light rail
Durability is a key aspect of the between Île des Surs and the Bros- transit and a multi-use path for
design with a 125 year service life spe- sard shore in Montreal, Quebec, the cyclists and pedestrians.
cified. One of the most significant fac- New Champlain Bridge replacement
tors in the design, however, is the is a part of a larger New Champlain The CSB with a main span of 240 m
compressed construction schedule. Bridge Corridor Project. With the creates a signature element. The
The crossing is scheduled to open to rapidly increasing cost of maintaining 160 m high single-pylon is comprised
traffic on 1 December 2018, with the the existing bridge, building a replace- of a tuning fork configuration of twin
ment was considered to be more eco- masts. Inclined lower tower legs echo
notice to proceed announced in May
nomically and socially beneficial for the inclined approach pier legs. The
2015, permitting a total design and
the region. pier caps throughout the approaches
construction duration of just
42 months. Key elements of the While the focus of this paper is on the form “W” shapes, defining the unique
design and construction which allow 3.4 km New Champlain Bridge, the aesthetics of the bridge (Fig. 2).
the project to be completed within the overall work scope includes a new île The project has been advanced
short timeframe, while meeting the des Soeurs Bridge, highway recon- through a Design Build Finance Oper-
challenges of environmental con- struction, and widening of the federal ate and Maintain Public–Private Part-
straints, durability requirements and portion of Autoroute 15, making this nership model. A competitive

Saint Lawrence River Existing Dike

W27 W25 W23 W21 W19 W17 W15 W13 W11 W09 W07 W05 W03 W01 E02 E04 E06 E08 E10

WA W26 W24 W22 W20 W18 W16 W14 W12 W10 W08 W06 W04 W02 MST E01 E03 E05 E07 E09 EA

Existing Champlain Bridge


West Approach Main Span East Approach

W27 W25 W23 W21 W19 W17 W15 W13 W11 W09 W07 W05 W03 W01 E02 E04 E06 E08 E10

WA W26 W24 W22 W20 W18 W16 W14 W12 W10 W08 W06 W04 W02 MST E01 E03 E05 E07 E09 EA

Seaway Navigation Channel Existing Terrain

F ig . 1: Plan and elevation views of the New Champlain Bridge.

38 Technical Report Structural Engineering International Nr. 1/2017

largest 2475 year event and the inter-
mediate 975 year event.
The liquefaction potentials in specific
areas were captured by modelling soil
springs with reduced to zero stiffness
in the non-linear time-history analysis
for the entire NBSL. Ground motions
input included imposed lateral spread-
ing due to liquefaction.

Scour depths and final scour eleva-
tions were computed for each pier. As
the design calls for all foundations to
be founded in the layer of competent
Fi g. 2: Rendering of the New Champlain Bridge
rock, the bridge is not vulnerable to
scour for 100 year floods stipulated by
selection process was undertaken with average wind speeds resulting from the design criteria.
three teams being shortlisted from six wind climate analysis. At the bridge
registered parties. The winning bid deck elevation, design wind speeds Vessel Collision
presented the lowest net present were derived for return periods repre-
value after meeting a set of manda- senting construction design and final The New Champlain Bridge is desig-
tory technical principles which design, based on site data corrected nated as a Class I critical bridge. The
addressed architectural, durability and for approach terrain and surface vessel collision study considers the
schedule criteria. roughness. 10-minutes (600-second) vessel types and sizes that navigate
averaged wind speed apply to aeroe- through and adjacent to the St. Law-
lastic stability during construction and rence River. The vessel collision anal-
Design Criteria final bridge. ysis determined the design demands
for a maximum annual frequency of
The bridge design was performed in Wind tunnel testing analysis on collapse of 1/10 000.
accordance with the principal standards sectional and full bridge models iden-
of CAN/CSA-S6-06 (R2013) Canadian tified any potential for vortex shed- Ice Loading
Highway Bridge Design Code1, Minis- ding induced vibration and onset of The bridge piers are designed to
tère des Transports du Québec (MTQ) flutter instability associated with the account for dynamic ice forces due to
Manuel de Conception des Structures, completed bridge and critical interme- collisions of moving ice floes, static ice
Volumes 1 and 22, MTQ Collection diate construction stages. forces caused by thermal movement
Normes – Ouvrages Routiers, Volumes
of continuously stationary ice sheets
I to VII3, and Eurocode (14, 25, and 36)
and ice adhesion forces. In addition,
with UK National Annexes. Additional
Seismic the pier concrete mix design accounts
design references for specific applica-
for ice abrasion effects due to ice
tions were stipulated by the Project The site is within the stable, yet seis- thicknesses of 0.9 m during the
Agreement. mically active continental interior of 125 year design life.
The local geological conditions, harsh the North American Plate. The sub-
climate and seismic hazards of this loca- surface conditions of the bridge con- Transit Corridor Loading
tion present unique challenges to the sist of artificial fill or native clay,
In addition to the highway corridors,
design and construction of the bridge. overlaying glacial tills and overlaying
the design takes into account two
Specialized studies on wind, seismicity, shale rock with various degree of
non-concurrent phases on the transit
scour potential, vessel collision and ice weathering.
corridor: (a) the RBL phase (reserved
loading were performed as technical Seismic analysis used the essentially bus lane) and (b) the SLR phase
inputs to the design criteria. Addres- elastic design approach assuming minor (light rail transit). Structures were
sing durability, the design adopts a inelastic behaviour, and considered designed in accordance with the
comprehensive approach to corrosion non-synchronous ground motions in Canadian Highway Bridge Design
protection of the bridge components, three dimensions due to wave passage Code’s1 load requirements and load
taking into account the environment, effects, site effects and incoherence. combinations for the RBL phase and
design detailing, materials selection, The analysis included time-history the load requirements of Eurocode4
construction quality and accessibility and geometrically non-linear response for the SLR phase.
for maintenance, inspection, repair and (P-delta effects).
replacement. The bridge is designed to
ensure 125 years of service life under The artificial fill along much of the Substructure
the site conditions addressed below. bridge alignment is susceptible to liq-
uefaction when submerged. Accord-
ingly, the west abutment, main span The West Approach extends ~2000 m
tower (MST), Pier E01 and the east and spans across 25 spread footings
The design wind speed criteria are approach foundations have been bearing on rock. The East Approach
based on one-hour (3600-second) designed assuming liquefaction for the extends ~762 m and includes two

Structural Engineering International Nr. 1/2017 Technical Report 39

types of foundations: spread footings the Highway Bridge Abutment (P11). limited to a depth of 3250 mm and a
bearing on rock and foundations The abutment behaves like a rigid frame width of 4400 mm (Fig. 6).
founded on drilled shafts socketed in in both principal directions (Fig. 4).
The deck consists of precast panels
rock. The foundations of the CSB
with in situ stitch pours to create com-
consist of cast-in-place (CIP) footings Piers posite action with the steel box-gir-
built on drilled shafts, with the excep-
The segmental pier leg substructures ders. Reinforcement of the deck is
tion of Pier E02 which is CIP spread
consist of hollow concrete box-sections entirely stainless steel per Project
footing on rock.
stacked one atop another and joined Agreement to ensure the design life
Examples of drilled shafts and spread together using post-tensioning. Pier of 125 years. The precast deck panels
footings are shown in Fig. 3. The foun- legs are variable in height to obtain include integral highway barriers,
dations’ structural designs are based the required superstructure profile. including relief joints to minimize
on strength and stability (resistance to cracking and extend their service life.
The upper 11.4 m of the piers have pier
sliding, overturning and uplift) under These measures reduce the amount of
caps consisting of steel box-sections
the governing load combinations. finishing works required, which will
with an interior matrix of diaphragms
aid in delivering the bridge on time.
Abutments and stiffeners. The pier caps form two
triangles that rest on the more pris- To offset the cost of stainless steel rein-
The east abutment geometry consists matic pier legs and join in the centre. forcement in the deck slab, the girder
of three independent structures sup- The top members of the triangles are design includes larger top flanges that
porting the north-bound transit slender tension members (Fig. 5). reduce deck reinforcement.
corridor and south-bound superstruc-
tures. Each pile cap rests on two sets The design of the longitudinally stif-
of cast-in-drilled-hole (CIDH) piles Approach Superstructure fened box-girders was required to
anchored to rock. A series of mechan- comply with provisions of Eurocode
The approach superstructure makes 3: EN1993-1-56 while the remainder
ically stabilized earth walls are placed
up almost 3 km of the 3.4 km cross- of the steel and concrete elements
below the pile cap.
ing. The geometry of the superstruc- were designed according to the Cana-
The west abutment geometry consists ture was largely dictated by dian Highway Bridge Design Code1.
of two multiple-column bents linked fabrication and transportation This mixing of codes was challenging
by a concrete superstructure cast requirements. Segments were limited at times and required careful review
monolithically with the abutment in weight to facilitate shop handling to ensure consistent designs, and to
backwall. The multiple-column bents and transportation. To facilitate trans- avoid over- or under-design. The use
rests on a pile supporting footing that portation to the site without detours, of the EN1993-1-56 for the longitudi-
is in combintion with both the the twin tubs of the highway girders nal design, combined with preferred
New Champlain Bridge Abutment and and the transit corridor boxes and are fabricator processes, resulted in box-
girders without longitudinal stiffeners
Precast segment
(albeit with marginally thicker webs).
150mm cip joint Precast segment
CIP pier starter 150mm CIP joint Double composite action was used to
CIP pier starter maximize section efficiency and limit
CIP footing
Soil the weight of the steel in the generally
heavier segments over the piers. Strain
concrete compatibility and local buckling
Excavation Cip footing between lines of shear studs were
Concrete plug checked using Eurocode provisions and
CL CL verified against the recommendations
of Florida DOT reports7,8 on recent
F ig . 3: (a) Drilled shafts and (b) spread footing developments. The addition of bottom

Southbound hwy Transit corridor Northbound hwy


64 922 CL Bearing
12 968 6000 4975 5000 5000 4975 6000 12900 3880
Control joint Roadway

Pier cap

8 drilled shafts

F ig . 4: West abutment. (Units: [mm])

40 Technical Report Structural Engineering International Nr. 1/2017

Northbound hwy
box girder
Southbound hwy
box girder
bridge, require use of concrete coun-
CL CL CL terweights in the shorter backspan to
4350 16 870 16 870 2200
achieve overall balance at the MST.
A crossbeam at each pair of stay
cables supports the three girders into
a two-dimensional grid of steel box-
girders. The crossbeams transfer the
Steel pier cap weight of the girders to the stay
cables, distributing the stay forces to
mitigate twisting of the upper tower
Upper transition segment
shaft. The crossbeams and the three
girder segments form the basic assem-
6.3 5.7 bly unit for the erection of the
1 mainspan (Fig. 7).
12.020m HWL
The tower consists of two shafts built
Pier leg
of precast and cast-in-place concrete
segments on a CIP footing with piles.
Concrete infill typ The tower shafts are hollow to pro-
Elevation Elevation
vide passageways for elevators,
(side) (front) ladders and utility and are connected
by a lower crossbeam and an upper
Fi g. 5: Elevation view of a typical pier (unit: [mm]) crossbeam resembling a “bowtie”.
The lower crossbeam is framed into
the superstructure and the “bowtie” is
flange concrete at the piers lowered Cable-Stayed Bridge above the clearance envelope of the
the elastic neutral axis of the section,
The CSB consists of a four span transit corridor (Fig. 8).
raising service stresses in the deck
reinforcement. A careful balance was superstructure, a MST, supporting The lower portions of the shafts up to
struck to optimise the girder section piers and a cable-stay system. the bowtie are sloped at 1 : 7 from the
design, minimising stainless steel rein- vertical, while the upper portions are
forcement for crack width control and Superstructure and Crossbeams vertical and free-standing. This upper
the total weight of structural steel. vertical portion, standing on the rigid
The superstructure consists of A-frame of the lower shafts and cross-
The typical erection sequence consists three longitudinal girders, supporting beams, supports the stay-cable
of assembling a full span of girder seg- north-bound and south-bound road- anchorages. The architectural require-
ments and lifting it into place adjacent ways, as well as a centre transit ments of the shape of the shaft and the
to the previously erected deck. Once corridor. The girders are lightweight location of the stays in the shaft
in place, the girder lines are spliced composite members with precast section result in an eccentricity of the
and prepared to receive the precast deck panels, designed to support downward component of the stay force
deck panels. Deck panels are placed all the design demands, including onto the shaft. This produces a perma-
and stitches poured in a sequence that earthquake, wind and extreme events. nent moment in the shaft about the
minimizes reinforcement stresses at Unbalanced spans and stays, impor- bridge longitudinal axis, requiring an
the piers. tant to the overall architecture of the initial transverse camber of the shafts,

17 045 10 870
4195 2500 2700 2500 4230 3335 2100 2100 3335
Barrier cast
integral Insitu Precast
w/ precast stitch deck
deck panels panel



2850 2850

7800 4400

Highway box girder Transit corridor

Fi g. 6: Typical cross-sections of (a) highway and (b) transit corridor. (Units: [mm])

Structural Engineering International Nr. 1/2017 Technical Report 41

Northbound hwy box girder Transit corridor Southbound hwy box girder

path Shldr Lane Lane Lane Shldr Transit Transit Shldr Lane Lane Lane Shldr
lane lane

Crossbeam Crossbeam

F ig . 7: Superstructure at the crossbeam.


Dynamic lifting frame

Trolley system
Delta frame


F i g. 9 : Erection of first segments of the main span.

Seaway, the major waterway of east- metres of vertical clearance over a

ern Canada and the Great Lakes few hours per month.
region. No temporary structures are
One traditional method for construct-
permitted in the channel and over-
ing CSBs is cantilever construction:
channel clearances must be main-
F ig . 8: Elevation of the tower. first erecting the steel box-girders,
tained with limited impact to shipping.
then stay cables and finally placing
The seaway potentially freezes from
bowing inward to offset the permanent the concrete deck slabs. To accelerate
December to March with few restric-
dead load deflections outward. construction, this procedure will be
tions to working over the channel;
In addition to forming the backbone of modified, and the steel segment will
however, the severity of winter makes
the lower A-frame of the MST, the be erected with most of the concrete
placing concrete difficult and overall
lower crossbeam supports about 60 m of deck panels already in place. By
productivity is reduced. Therefore,
the back span and main span superstruc- increasing the construction cantilever
the main span erection will proceed
tures, and resists any twisting due to dif- moments at the tip of the girders, the
through the spring and summer of
ferential loads in the back and main time spent per segment will be
2017, after obtaining from the Seaway
spans. Structurally, it is one of the most reduced.
management corporation permission
rigid components of the entire CSB. for passage of bridge segments
Functionally, the lower crossbeam through the upper portion of the ship- Key Design Features to
serves as a major cross-passage ping clearance. Each segment will be Accelerate Construction
between the three longitudinal gir- lifted to a gantry, which will transport
it under the main span soffit to the Other key time-saving features imple-
ders; as a centre for the coordination
erection front over the Seaway (Fig. mented in the design are highlighted
and distribution of utility lines in the
9). There, another gantry will lift the as follows:
superstructure and MST; as the chief
elevator service landing; and as a base segment into position for connection
station for the under-bridge to the previously erected girders. The Precast Footings
maintenance gantry. transit over the Seaway will occur Concrete spread footings are pre-cast
over a period of several hours. Once on site in a certified temporary pre-
lifted into place, the segment will no casting facility, which allowed work to
Erection Techniques longer obstruct clearance. During the continue through cold winter periods
The major challenge in the CSB erec- segment erection cycle, restrictions to – when pouring concrete would other-
tion is crossing the St. Lawrence shipping will be limited to several wise be extremely difficult. Precasting

42 Technical Report Structural Engineering International Nr. 1/2017

allows foundation preparation and starter segments of the foundation [6] EN. Eurocode 3, Design of Steel Structures:
footing casting to be carried out in shafts are CIP. Part 1-1 General Rules and Rules for Buildings
(with document S.). BS EN 1993-1-1, British
parallel, rather than in series–as in
Standard Euro Norm, 2008.
conventional construction. Conclusion
[7] Potter W, Ansley M. Investigation of the
Precast Segmental Pier Legs The New Champlain Bridge is one of Double Composite Box Girder Failure Criteria.
FDOT Structures Research Centre, 2010.
The precast segmental construction of the high-profile infrastructure projects
each pier leg is cast in parallel. This in North America. With unique chal- [8] Pai N, Patel P, Sen R, Stroh S. Design and
lenges of environmental constraints, Evaluation of Steel Bridges with Double Com-
facilitated the incorporation of the posite Action. University of Southern Florida:
required architectural features and durability requirements and architec-
Tampa, 2010.
provides a high quality product. tural considerations, special solutions
needed to be developed with respect
Steel Pier Caps to the design and construction of key
elements of the project as discussed.
Although constructing the pier caps in SEI Data Block
The design is tailored to give the most
concrete is possible, there are several
accelerated construction in order to Owner:
issues that increase the risk of schedule
achieve the targeted opening day. To Government of Canada
delays. The complex shape requires dif-
date, the 16-months design phase is
ficult formwork and long curing times Developer/Operator:
substantially completed. The founda-
in large staging areas. The top tension Signature on the St. Lawrence Group
tion construction of the New Cham-
members require a high concentration
plain Bridge is well underway as is the Contractor:
of post-tensioning (PT); placing such
prefabrication of several steel and Signature on the St. Lawrence
PT includes several additional con-
concrete components off site.” The 1 Constructors (partnership of SNC-
struction steps for the placing, tension-
December 2018 delivery of the New Lavalin Major Project Inc., Dragados
ing, grouting and final concrete casting
Champlain Bridge remains the Canada, Inc., and Flatiron
to restore the architectural shape.
objective. Constructors Canada Limited)
Finally, the lifting of such a heavy con-
crete element is challenging. Designer:
The steel pier caps reduce construction
References TYLI-IBT-SLI Joint Venture (joint-
time and effort by being fabricated off- [1] CSA. Canadian Highway Bridge Design venture of T.Y. Lin International
site, requiring fewer assembly stages Code. CAN/CSA-S6-06, Mississauga, Canada, Canada Inc., International Bridge
during erection and smaller cranes. 2013. Technologies Canada Inc., and SNC-
[2] MTQ. Manuel de Conception des Structures,
Lavalin Inc.)
CSB Substructure Construction vol. 1 & 2 Ministère des Transports du Québec:
Québec, 2009. Structural steel (t): 72 700
The pier and tower shafts of the sub-
structures of the CSB are precast con- [3] MTQ. Normes – Ouvrages d’Art Tome III Post-tensioning (t): 1110
crete segments, except for transitions Ministère des Transports du Québec: Québec, Concrete: (m3): 107 000
2010. Stay-cables (t): 1120
at the superstructure and the change
of slope in the tower shaft. [4] EN. Eurocode 1, Actions on Structures, Part Estimated total design CAD
2 Traffic Loads on Bridges, BS EN 1991-2 UK and construction cost $2.15 billion
The foundation designs were started National Annex (NA), British Standard Euro (incl. highway
at-risk during the early works phase Norm, 2008. approaches and access
(prior to financial closure), and issued [5] EN. Eurocode 2, Design of Concrete Struc- roads):
for construction early in the design tures: Part 1-1 General Rules and Rules for Service date: 1 December
phase to allow construction to pro- Buildings, BS EN 1992-1-1 UK National Annex
ceed during fall 2015. Footings and (NA), British Standard Euro Norm, 2005.

Structural Engineering International Nr. 1/2017 Technical Report 43